Driving along Cassier Highway
Sunshine Inn provides free breakfast. As you know, the free breakfast is something you get for nothing and nothing much to talk about. Anyway they had cream cheese to go with bagels. Previous day, Sharon, the receptionist at Sunshine Inn, told us about the attractions in Smithers. Igloo museum is one of them. This is a small place run by a taxidermist .His main job is taxidermy, that is to stuff animals killed by hunters or animals who get killed by accidents. He has a private collection of stuffed animals and he charges a nominal amount of $10.00 per person from people who visit the museum to see them.
The three of us visited this place and he took us round showing his stuffed animals. He has done a great job in preserving the animals and making them look like live animals. This is his collection over a period of forty years. There was a big moose, a cougar, a wolverine, many bears, deer, foxes, wolves and many other small animals in the collection.
Talking to him, we learned many new facts about animals in Canadian forests. There are many different kinds of bears. The most common bear found in Canadian jungles is the black bear. Though they are called black bears, they are not black...for this reasons they're also called the Cinnamon bear. Some of them are dark brown, others are lighter in colour. Brown bears are rarer and are different to black bears as they have a humped on their back. Grizzly bears are larger in size, but not very common. They are mainly found in Alaska.
If you want to see bears, you must get up early and leave around 5:00AM. The most feared animal in the Canadian jungle is not the bear or the couger, but the wolverine. They are scavengers similar to Hyenas and have very strong jaws and teeth. That taxidermist emphasised that this particular creature was the most dangerous of the woods.
We also discussed about other animals and their eating habits. I asked him why he is not expanding his business and making it known to tourist industry. He may be able to attract more visitors. He really does not have the time. He is already one year behind in his work undertaken for his clients. He took us to his workshop and showed how he is curing the animal skins and preparing them to fill up. Malisha took some photos of the stuffed animals and I will try to upload some of them.
Stewart is about 330 km from Smithers. It is not on the main road to Alaska. We have to travel on the Cassier Highway and then at the Meziadin junction turn left and travel nearly 67 kilometers. This stretch of road is well known for its scenic beauty, but at the same time, can have heavy falls of snow. The road is fully sealed and the maintenance crews work around the clock to keep this road open. To avoid Snow avalanches, which is a common occurrence in winter, the maintenance crews drop explosives from air planes and clear snow from mountain peaks.
In Stewart, we booked into a hotel called Ripley Creek Inn. From outside, it looks like a collection of old buildings. But the rooms in the hotel are very cosy. We have booked a room with two queen beds.
Stewart is part of British Columbia, and a town that belongs to Canada. We can cross over to Hyder from Stewart. Hyder is a small village that is considered to be a part of Alaska which belongs to USA. The strange thing is that any one can drive over the border and there is no one to check you at the border. We drove across to Hyder. It is more like a ghost town with a few American souvenir shops. Mala bought some fudge from one of the shops. However when you come back to Stewart , the Canadian border patrol stops you. They have a small post there. We had to show our passports and get them stamped for a second time and also answer a few stupid questions such as whether we are carrying any firearms and how long do we plan to stay in Canada etc.
One major attraction in Stewart is the Bear Glacier. Twenty years ago, this glacier came up to the main road. It has receded over the years and you can see it from a distance. Sharon, the receptionist at Sunshine Inn told us that her sister-in-law visited Stewart about a year ago and she saw more than forty bears on the way up and down. We were expecting a simlar number of bear views. But we saw only one bear on our way to Stewart. We were going there in the afternoon and the time was not good for bear views.